Sunny Wallis

Sunny Wallis

May 22, 2023. 2 mins read

Food

Inspiring Lunchbox Hacks for Busy Parents

We’ve always been huge fans of Cheezels, Le Snacks and Stringers, but thanks to technology, mum bloggers, facebook groups and Tik Tok, you don't have to look far for inspiring lunch box ideas and healthy alternatives to keep your children energised and growing! Lunch boxes have come a long way from cheese sandwiches and brown apples in a paper bag.

school_lunch_box_for_kids_cooking

For any parent struggling to up their lunch box game or is perhaps new to kinder and school lunches, this article is for you! We have compiled our list of favourite lunch box ideas to make your life easier, make the lunches look better and make the food taste better.

It's all in the planning and preparation

  1. Make extra dinner the night before

    A quick shortcut to delicious and easy-to-prepare lunches is to cook extra the night before, store it in the fridge and have it cold for lunch the next day. Look at these batch-cook family recipes from Australia's Best Recipes to give you some ideas and how to meal prep 101.

  2. Prep while tidying up from dinner 
    Make the most of a dirty kitchen. Reuse the chopping board, bread knife, and butter that's still sitting on the kitchen side. Don't waste time cleaning the kitchen and wiping down the surfaces just to use it again for the lunchbox operation. 

  3. Sliced bread in the freezer
    Always keep half a loaf of bread in the freezer. You'll be grateful when you get home late Sunday evening and haven't had a chance to restock the cupboards.

  4. Frozen water bottle ice packs
    Don't want to pay for ice packs? No problem, just reuse some plastic water bottles, fill them with water and pop them in the freezer. Use different-sized bottles depending on your lunchbox. 

  5. Elastic band apple slices
    If you haven't heard of this trick yet… it will blow your mind! Cut your apple into logical pieces. Then piece it back together and bind it with a rubber band, just like it had never been cut! This way, the apple stays sealed and fresh, with no exposed cut edges to get brown.

  6. Kids' choice/ input
    Once you've made the main part of the meal (and added in the healthy snacks), lay out a few additional snacking options for your child to choose from. This is a great way to give them some independence and contribute to the house's workload and chores.

  7. Lunch box styles 
    Now, there's no point creating exciting and tasty lunches if they're just scrambled into mush and get mixed as soon as they are put into a school bag. You need to get yourself a practical lunch box that divides the food portions, keeps them in place, and looks yummy to eat. Take a look at Mum's Central's list of top lunch box designs for 2023.

Appearance matters

Like all food we eat, presentation is everything. Here's a little inspiration for your little one's lunch box.

  1. DIY Butterfly Snack Bags - A very cute way of displaying fruit, nuts or sweets. It also means you can use one bag to separate two items… we’re trying to save the planet, remember!

  2. Banana and Orange messages - Share the love, or just remind the kids to bring their sports kit home… Either way it’s a super method for sharing messages.

  3. Skewers - food on a stick is fun… it’s just a fact.

  4. Sandwich Cookie Cutters - Whether it’s vegemite or nutella, if it’s shaped like a kitten they’re sure to love it!

  5. Bento Boxes - Want to share your motherly loving lunches on instagram? This is the kit you’re going to need!

  6. Toys - Looking to make lunch time a little more fun? And by that I mean adding toys and figurines as pure bribery to get them to eat their carrots sticks.

Healthy body, healthy mind

It can be difficult to ensure your little ones get all the proper nutrients, especially when trying to cram it into a lunch box at 9pm at night. Here are a few little ideas to help you along the way. 

  1. Homemade healthy oat bars 

    Oat bars are fantastic for giving that extra energy boost, the perfect recess snack but plenty of these bars in the supermarket contain heaps of sugar and are only sometimes the best source of nutrients. But luckily, making them at home is quick, simple and tasty. You can combine many different ingredients to make a variety of flavours that will please just about anyone. Australia's Best Recipes have 17 recipes for you to try this term!

  2. Hidden veggie pasta sauces

    Pasta is a great lunch box filler. You can make it the night before, it's incredibly filling, and almost every child loves pasta! Tomato-based sauces are perfect for masking lots of hidden veggies, so you can make your sauces as healthy as you like! Kid Spot has a super recipe for you to try. 

  3. Leftover wraps

    Sometimes your leftovers aren't the kinds of foods you can easily store and eat out of a lunch box. But adding them into a wrap is a great solution. This keeps things tidy and tasty. Whether it's a curry, a chilli, stir fry or a full-cooked breakfast… if you can eat it, you can wrap it! Wraps are also great for little hands and extra soft for teeny tiny teeth.

  4. Nuts and trail mix

    According to Nuts For Life, a handful of nuts daily is valuable to your child's diet. Nuts make a convenient, healthy and filling snack thanks to their healthy fats, fibre, plant protein and a wide variety of essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Nuts should be introduced to infants from around 4-6 months of age in the form of butters or pastes to avoid the risk of choking from whole nuts. Nuts and seeds are super easy to add to a lunch box; they are dry, don't make much mess, and are small, so you can tuck them into a tidy little container.

Did you even make a healthy lunch if you didn’t share it on Instagram?

Now we’ve given you a collection of 17 lunch box ideas to play around with, you should be well on your way to creating healthy, picture perfect platters! There are so many amazing ‘kids meal’ accounts on social media, and it really is a fab place to start when looking for inspiration and recipes. So when you’ve diced up your avocado, skewered 40 grapes and cut a kittens face out of a block of cheese, be sure to share your masterpiece using the hashtag #kidslunchbox and join the 275,000 other parents in the revolution who are also pushing lunchbox boundaries in 2023. Goodluck!

Sunny Wallis

Sunny Wallis

Wordsmith. Runner & Hockey player. Mum of two under two.

Tired, all the time. A childcare and education marketing specialist who loves documenting and transcribing the highs and lows of family life. You'll find her in the sunshine, in a sports bra chasing kids on scooters. A pizza fanatic with a small addiction to mojitos. Hates green vegetables but now has to pretend they're her favourite food 5 days a week.

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